15 Lessons I Wish I Knew Before College

15 Lessons I Wish I Knew Before College

There are a lot of things about college I wish someone would have explained to me - here are a few.
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There are a lot of things about college that are way different from high school, that totally goes without saying. You're miles away from home, just to begin with. Or maybe you're not, but you're still surrounded by a million new people and a million new things and thousands more opportunities. Here are a few things I've learned so far in college that I wish someone had told me:

1. Your Immune System is NOT a Brick Wall

If you never, ever got sick in high school and you're thinking that college is going to be the same way, think again. There's new people, a new atmosphere, and new germs. I never got sick in high school, but here I am battling a cold in the middle of Philadelphia! I'm telling you, bring along some medicine and DRINK WATER. Seriously, do everything you can to keep yourself healthy; you'll be happy about it later.

2. Take Advantage of FREE Things

It's no secret that college is really expensive, but if you go to the right kind of university, you'll be surrounded by weird little free things that you should take advantage of! Seriously. Utilize things that are free to students, even if you don't feel like you need to. You'll use that free water bottle, I promise you. Learn how to manage your money! You won't be sorry you did.

3. People Who Suck in High School Will Not Magically Change

It's just a fact of life. Some people get totally stuck in the glory days of high school. Let them be. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have loved your high school days and love the memories you've made - in fact, it's a good thing. Just know that the people who were miserable and mean in high school are probably going to be miserable and mean in college. Attitude is everything - make sure yours is good.

4. Call Your Parents

You're going to miss them, even if you don't think you will. You're going to miss home cooked meals and chicken noodle soup when you're sick and you're even going to miss stepping on your brother's legos. (OK, only a little, those things really hurt.) Call your family. Tell them you miss them. Tell them you love them. You'll only feel good about it.

5. Engage With Other People

Making friends in college is a lot like making friends in elementary school - if you're pleasant and just make conversation, boom you've got someone to wave hi to in passing. You may even find that the kid that sits next to you in English is tons of fun and maybe you'll become friends. Even if you're in a lecture with five or six hundred people, say hi to the person next to you. There's a very slim chance they won't say hi back.

6. Make Friends Outside of your Major

There are so many people on a college campus, it's not hard to find someone who is similar - or different - than you. You spend a lot of time with the people in your major, but it's important to get to know other people's views and branch out sometimes. There's no shortage of people to talk to and meet. Join some clubs! It's the easiest way to find people who like the same things. And, it'll get you out of your room!

7. You Live With the People on your Floor

What I mean by this is: don't leave your laundry in the dryer, respect quiet hours, and step outside your room sometimes. It's pointless to start petty drama with the people on your floor, because you have to live with them. Seriously. Go outside and make friends with the people next door to you - they've got you when you need some sugar or a spoon.

8. Make Friends with the RA

They're only there to help you. Unless they've totally got it out for you, they'll probably leave you alone. But it's a really good idea to get on good terms with them, because they know their way around campus and will tell you a bunch of cool stuff if you ask the right questions. Don't try to fight them on everything. It'll only get you written up when something goes wrong.

9. Find Time to do Something for Yourself

Living with a roommate and being constantly surrounded by people can be fun, but make sure you find some time alone. Whether that be walking to get some coffee, finding a quiet little reading corner, or doing something nice for yourself. It's important to keep yourself grounded, especially when you're surrounded by so much excitement. Do yoga or go to the park! Do anything! Your body and mind will thank you.

10. You Don't Have to be the Same Person You Were in High School

When everyone tells you that college is different from high school, listen to them. It so is. You can totally reinvent yourself if you want to. Embrace the changes and be who YOU want to be.

11. No One Cares

What I mean by this is: if you want to go get pizza in your pajamas at 12 AM, really, no one cares. In high school it's easy to get caught up in wanting to look cool and making sure everyone likes you, etc. In college, no one else really cares what you do, which is kind of great. You can dress up for class, or you can wear sweats. You can do both in one week. No one's gonna bat an eye.

12. GO OUT

Going out does NOT have to mean partying. Going out to the movies or to dinner with your friends or just to do something fun is really important. Don't stay holed up in your room. Just find some time to laugh. And if partying is what you want to do, then do it. (Just study Sunday through Thursday!) It doesn't make a difference what it is you do. No one will care if you don't go to the party, and similarly, no one's going to judge if you do. Just get out sometimes.

13. Do Your Homework - Save Online Shopping for When ou're Done

We all have computers, and it's really easy to get bored of writing that essay or doing the readings and way more fun to online shop or check Twitter. Resist the urge. The sweater is not going to sell out in the next five minutes. If you get your homework done now, you have more time for fun later. Studying now means that when your friends want to go for ice cream, you can say yes.

14. Do the Readings

Pop quizzes are totally a thing. Even if you think it's not going to make a difference if you read the article, it really is.

15. HAVE FUN

You're in college first and foremost, to learn. You should be doing a lot of learning - about the subjects you study, about the world, and about yourself. In between all that learning, find some time to have fun. Like I said before: Having fun doesn't need to mean going out. Just find time to laugh and talk and engage with other people. Netflix will still be there - the opportunity to make a memory won't. But, opportunities will keep coming. Go out and seize one.


Cover Image Credit: Google

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Reliving Your Childhood Is A Profound Experience

Take advantage of any sort of chance to do something to release the kid in you.

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Last week, the first thing I did when I got home from college was — not unpack — go to Barnes and Noble. If you know me, this is completely normal behavior. But, it was not my normal visit; I was going to see an author. But it wasn't an author I have read for years, almost a decade. I went to the book signing for the author of my favorite childhood books, Erin Hunter.

The Erin Hunter team wrote the cat books we all read as a kid about the wild cats living in the woods, the Warriors series. I remember reading 36 of the now-still-growing number of books and finishing the very last one that I read, running downstairs in the middle of the night, and sobbing to my parents. It was the most exciting, creative, and intense book series that I had read at the time, and were the coolest thing I had ever stumbled upon in fourth grade. I've moved on to adult novels of course, but those box sets I got in middle school still make me smile every time I see them under my desk, holding up the massive collection of new books I have accumulated.

And they were just that for me — a foundation. I read those books in two days sometimes, and they changed the way I would read for the rest of my life. But not only that, I loved them so much that they were the books that inspired me to write when I was just a fifth grader. It might have been the worst four pages of ripped up notebook paper with messy, scrawling elementary school handwriting ever of a story ever, but it was the start of something.

Those books gave me a passion of reading and inspired me to write, and how ironic it was to come home from college, the epitome of stretching my wings and entering adulthood, and drive straight to Barnes and Noble to get to see my favorite childhood author. I owed my passion for literature and writing in part to that team of writers, and I just had to see them in person.

I was the only person (besides parents) above the age of thirteen, so I lingered in the back, a little red-faced and nonchalant, holding my beat up copy of my favorite book at my side. The author of the team's newest series came up and started to speak. After the children ceased their squealing. The crowd gathered may have been small, but it gave me so much hope that kids were still reading, as they were all holding physical books and not tablets, phones, or anything. They were just as enraptured with the author who brought me so much joy when I had been their age as I was. We were both experiencing the same joy of seeing the person and hearing the voice behind the words that came to life in our minds.

Standing there as the only adult not supervising their child, I held back a little bit from frantically raising my hand and just listened to her speak. Listening to her speak about the most recent series was incredibly interesting, but it was not the most important thing I took away from her visit. She spoke of her journey as both a writer and an author, and the whole first part of it was eerily similar to what I do on a daily basis. I was not expecting to learn anything by going to that or to gain anything profound beyond some positive nostalgia and gratitude for the stories she helped to tell. But I got so much more than that; I go reassurance and encouragement to keep with it.

By taking an opportunity to return to something you enjoy, you never know how much you might find from the experience. I was just going to go for the sake of my self from ten years ago, who would have scolded me if I did not. What you need to hear finds you at the exact time that you need it to, and sometimes the opportunities to listen come in gifts that are wrapped with interesting paper.

What I needed to hear — as someone who only finds the time to write narratively in her free time — came from one of the women who sparked that passion, and if that is not something coming full circle, I don't know what is. I needed to tap into my inner child and younger self in order to hear what was always being shouted all around me, but then again, children are much more open-minded and can pick up on things that a grown person may not ever take a moment to observe.

So break out the watercolors. Pick up your favorite chapter book from middle school. Go put that old Disney movie on the TV. You might pick up on something that you always understood as a kid, but need to hear with a more experienced mind.

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